Telling people not to get stressed out while we’re in the throes of a global pandemic that’s having an effect on every aspect of our lives is not going to be helpful. Of course, you’re going to be stressed out, and there’s not even the option of getting your usual stress-busting massage or facial treatment booked in because, you know, social distancing.
Even so, there are things that you can try to reduce the impact that COVID-19 stress has on your daily life. Here are a few tips to try...
This is a new situation for the vast majority of us. We feel compelled to do things through fear and stress, like hoarding toilet rolls and trying to find ‘useful’ things to do with our time. You don’t have to be busy, or productive. Let yourself just BE. Psychologists promote the idea of ‘radical self-acceptance’ this means just accepting everything about yourself, your situation, and your life without question or blame. It’s the best way to let some calm in – nobody knows how to navigate this situation, because we haven’t been here before. There is no ‘wrong’ way to do this. Once you accept this, things start to get easier.
Shut Out the Constant Bad News
Everywhere seems to be drowning on COVID-19 related news and information at the moment, even your social media feeds will be full of it. Take time out from the constant stream of negativity and have social media days off, limit the time you spend reading/watching news. Turn off your phone’s news app notifications.
The information we get, especially online, is often sensationalized. Much of the time it also focusses on the negatives. Decide on your own trusted sources and check in with them just a few times a day, for a few minutes. It’s also important to limit talking about the virus and any negative impacts or concerns in front of children. They may already be feeling unsettled by the things they see going on around them and their changes in routine, so keep COCID-19 related conversations out of their earshot. Kids soak up information like little sponges and they can get very frightened, picking up on your own fear.
Try to Notice the Positives, The Good People and Helpers
This is related to the last point – while the media focuses on what’s wrong with the world, take the time to notice the good people, the positive actions and the ways people are coming together – albeit not socially – to cope with the problems the virus has thrown up. There is a ton of stories around that showcase the ways people are helping each other, uplifting each other and more. Individuals are supporting their community, donating time and other things and coming up with a whole load of ways to get themselves and each other through these hard times. It’s so important to try and balance the heavy news reports with the optimistic and life-affirming information.
Take It Moment by Moment
Nobody knows how long this is going to go on for, and thinking long term is likely to make you feel depressed and powerless. The only way to avoid this is literally, taking it a day, a week or even just an hour at a time. This is our new reality, but it’s not our forever reality. Focus on dealing with the next day, or whatever time feels manageable to you, and try not to think about the ifs, whens and maybes of how long this is going to last.
Focus on the Things You CAN Control
When this thing seems overwhelming and you don’t know what to do, find something in your day your day life that you CAN control. It could be as simple as making sure you have your daily shower and get up at the same time as normal to restore a sense of routine. Maybe it’s time you cleaned out your kitchen cupboards, organised your bookshelf or cancelled all the payments for things out of your bank account that you no longer use. These little jobs are the things that will help to absorb your brain and ground you when it feels like life is in chaos and it’s way out of your control.
Be kind to yourself and take care.